Philippines Ignores China Demand To Quit Shoal

Declaring “that’s our territory” and giving a warning to Chinese vessels to back off, the Philippine officials last Wednesday disregarded China’s demand to remove Filipino vessels from Panatag Shoal.

BRP Edsa, a Philippine Coast Guard search and rescue vessel, along with an archaeological survey mission aboard the MY Sarangani and a fishing boat was remained in the area, facing off two Chinese maritime surveillance vessels and a fishing boat.

Last Monday an order was demanded by China that all Filipino vessels should be out or clear the area, which then calls Huangyan Island and which is known internationally as Scarborough Shoal, and also sent an aircraft to buzz a Philippine fishing boat in the second, such incident happened since Saturday.

According to Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, “We’re also telling their ships to do the same,” he told the reporters.  “That’s our territory and we’re also saying the same thing to their ships.”

Carandang said talks between the Philippines and China were continuing. “Tensions have not degenerated,” he said, and the fact “that not a shot has been fired is already a sign that the situation is not deteriorating.”

Arbitration call ignored

Philippines and China have decided to settle the argument diplomatically but have both asserted on their ownership of the shoal, extending an eight-day deadlock on the high seas.

Last Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario, asked China to bring the debate to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea for negotiation. The Chinese embassy, though, disregarded the proposal and asked the Philippines to extract its vessels from the shoal “and restore peace and stability there.”

The latest standoff between Manila and Beijing over disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) began on April 8 when a Philippine Navy plane spotted eight Chinese fishing boats in Panatag, a cluster of reefs and islands around a lagoon.

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, the Philippine Navy flagship was transmitted to the area on April 10 and its officials boarded the fishing boats, but Chinese maritime surveillance vessel interposed. The fishing boats glided last Friday night.

The argument is just one of a countless claims over islands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea that quarry china against the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Conflict has increased in the past 2 years over worries that China is becoming more aggressive in its claims to the sea that overlaps shipping lanes between East Asia and Europe also the Middle East.

Even though supplicant countries have vowed to fix the territorial gaps peacefully, the arguments have vented in violence in the past which includes the 1988 when China and Vietnam collided in the Spratly Islands in a defiance that killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers. Many fear the disagreements that became Asia’s next flash point for armed conflict.

Vietnam held a maritime ceremony last Monday near the area where the event happened to remember the dead soldiers, state-controlled media reported.

Numerous rounds of talks have failed to end the impasse at Panatag, which is 872 kilometer from Hainan province, China’s next-door territory to the shoal.

Ancient Chinese shipwreck

Zhang Hua, Chinese embassy spokesperson, acknowledged that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or Unclos, permits countries to claim an exclusive economic zone but was then reported that Philippines could not exercise sovereignty on areas within those waters that are owned by other countries.

One ancient Chinese shipwreck could be found at Panatag, but the Philippine research ship has no right to rescue it, Zhang said. “We urge the archaeological vessel to leave the area immediately,” Zhang said in a statement.

‘We will not leave’

In an interview with the reporters last Wednesday, Defense Secretary Voltaire De Gazmin called on Filipinos to come together and let the world know that ”we are being bullied” by China.

Also on Wednesday, Bayan Muna Representatives Teodoro Casiño and Neri Colmenares filed a resolution condemning China and calling for an inquiry into the government’s failure to assert sovereignty over the shoal.

“We also do not want to go to war, but we must assert our sovereignty, through whatever means we can,” Casiño said.

On Tuesday, Gazmin said, “We will fight for what is ours. We are in the area and we will not leave while we continue the talks” between the DFA and Chinese authorities.

Manila Named 3rd Worst City For Driving

The capital of the Philippines, Manila, was been marked by the “CNNGo” travel and lifestyle website as the world’s third-worst city when it comes to driving.

The website mentioned that Filipinos’ concern about traffic clogging is their number one problem in the country and to be followed by the following, like air pollution, garbage collection, flood control and the need for security.

“So, Filipinos care more about getting to work on time than they do about respiratory ailments, mounting trash heaps, drowning or being assaulted?” it said.

According to CNNGo, Manila borrowed US$60 million last 2001 from the World Bank for transit-related activities.

“Among other things, the funds were meant to ‘promote the use of non-motorized transport,’” it added. “A campaign asking locals to ‘Please stop driving,’ however, wasn’t necessarily the best approach to traffic management.”

The website thinks that officials may be doing something to solve the traffic untidiness in the city. “Redeeming quality: You’re in a country in which smooth-flowing traffic is apparenly of utmost importance to residents. So, you gotta figure somebody, somewhere is working on the problem. Right?”

It was said that Beijing in China topped the list as the world’s third-worst place for driving, then followed by New Delhi in India.

The other cities that were also considered on the list are Mexico City in Mexico, Johannesburg in South Africa, Lagos in Nigeria, São Paolo in Brazil, Moscow in Russia, Toronto in Canada and Monaco.

MMDA doubts report

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) officers expressed doubts regarding the report.

“Siguro hindi naman totoo iyan. Ano bang basehan nila? Convenience? Travel time?” said MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino.

“Ang ginagawa natin sinasama na rin natin ang mga residente para sila rin ang gumawa ng paraan against traffic,” he added.

The county is not being left behind with regards to the state of roads and vehicles, but he also mentioned that some Filipino drivers really need more discipline on the road.

“MMDA, under Chairman Tolentino’s strong leadership, is working hard to improve Metro Manila’s traffic situation,” according to Yves Gonzalez, agency’s traffic discipline unit head.

“We’ve implemented speed limits, motorcycle lanes, installed traffic light timers, utilized social media, and mobile apps to inform motorists,” he told ABS-CBNNews.com

“All projects aimed at improving Metro Manila’s traffic situation. All this in less than 2 years, and we have a lot more ahead,” Gonzalez said.

2 Quezon City Mall Heist Suspects Fall

Two of the six suspects were arrested in a town in Iloilo last Monday who was said that they were the suspects in the 14-million robbery at the money changer shop at Robinson’s Galleria in Quezon City last March 29.

Namely Willy Enriquez and Ereno De La Cruz were the 2 suspects who were arrested. According to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Alan Purisima, the two were on a motorcycle when they were cornered in Ajuy, a town in Iloilo at about 8 p.m. last Monday.

Also, Purisima mentioned that Enriquez yielded a .45 caliber pistol and De La Cruz a .38 caliber revolver.

“They sensed the presence of policemen and were on their way to Bacolod City to while away the days when cornered. They gave themselves up peacefully,” Purisima said.

Enriquez and De La Cruz were soared to Manila yesterday afternoon and are planned to be carried to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Director Chief Superintendent Mario De La Vega of Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said that Enriquez was recognized by the security guard namely Roderick Relocio as one of the 6 suspects who robbed the P14 million meant for the Sanry’s moneychanger shop in the basement of Robinson’s Galleria last March 29.

A secutiry guard, Rodrigo Villa, was killed in the firefight while the 5 other guards namely Relocio, Josua Toniza, Jeremy Rabe, Paul Adrian Sarmiento, and Lea Del Mundo suffered wounds.

The suspects ablaze extensively and threw 2 hand grenades, yet only one exploded, to cover their escape on motorcycles.

De La Vega uttered that Relocio broke into tears when showed with Enriquez’s photo from the rascal’s gallery of the Pasay City police, where the asserted member of the Ozamis pilfering gang is facing burglary in band charges, also for robbing a moneychanger shop.

There was a warrant of arrest for Enriquez who was then issued by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 110.

Bullets linked to other crimes

De La Vega said that the bullets recuperated at the robbery assumed the same marks as those yielded by a member of the Ozamis robbery gang who was killed in a grapple with security guards at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City last Feb. 10.

Bullets conveying the same marks as those in the Galleria robbery were also used in a shooting at the Appovel Subdivision in Cagayan De Oro City last Aug.18, 2011; a robbery at a money transfer outlet in San Pedro, Laguna last July 9, 2011; and another gunfire on Highway Babag 11 in Lapu-Lapu City last June 9, 2011.

Equipped with a warrant of arrest from the Pasay City court, police officials invaded the Ozamis robbery gang’s known homes in Parañaque City on April 5 and in Cavite and Taytay, Rizal on April 9, but were disappointed to come up unsuccessful.

Headed by Inspector Elmer Monsalve, a trailer team from the QCPD, they rushed to Iloilo after an informer reported that the presence of Enriquez was just within the area.

Chief Superintendent Cipriano Querol, director of the Police Regional Office 6, expanded Monsalve’s team with police officers from the towns of Lemery, Passi and Ajuy and the joint operation paid off with the arrest of Enriquez and De la Cruz.

De la Vega said they are sure of the participation of Enriquez in the Galleria robbery, but they are still trying to determine the role of De la Cruz in the Ozamis gang.

Aquino Inspects Metro Land, Air, Sea Terminals

Last Monday, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said that transportation services at Metro Manila’s major land, air and sea terminals have considerably enhanced from conditions last year, but further improvements can still be done.

Manuel Roxas II, Transportation and Communicatons secretary, accompanied President Benigno Aquino III last Monday on an inspection tour at Cubao bus terminal, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Manila North Harbor.

According to Roxas, Mr. Aquino who made the same rounds last year has noted improvements at Cubao terminal, NAIA and North Harbor.

“Last year, there was really chaos. Now, people are queuing properly and we have more security measures,” Roxas uttered.

Before President Aquino leaves for Cambodia to attend the two-day 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit, he supervised the inspection first.

President Aquino told the reporters that he was there not only to assure that the security procedures is well executed at the terminals but also to ensure that terminals provides convenience and safety for departing passengers.

North Harbor

Even with the improvements, Secretary Roxas said that President Aquino still found numerous problems that he wants to be resolved as soon as possible.

“One problem that the President saw was that some of the urinals were not that clean. I will make sure that this is dealt with,” Roxas said.

The President’s inspection began at Manila’s North Harbor, the country’s busiest domestic terminal at around 10 o’clock in the morning.

A commercial vessel with a capacity of 1,929 passengers that was docked at Pier 2 and scheduled to depart at 3 o’clock in the afternoon namely MV St. Michael Archangel, was boarded by President Aquino together with Secretary Roxas and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

The ship’s route is at Misamis Oriental province, with stops at Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo.

President Aquino and Secretary Roxas were satisfied with what they saw. They’ve found out that the vessel had enough life jackets, life rings, fire extinguishers, and other emergency equipment.

Data from the Coast Guard presented that more than 147,000 passengers lodged over 1,000 vessels that navigated to several destinations nationwide over the past 24 hours (from 6 a.m., April 1 to 6 a.m. April 2).

Terminal 3

Around 11 a.m., Mr. Aquino was at NAIA Terminal 3. The president accompanied one passenger to check how long the travelers had to fall in line outside the terminal before they could get inside the building.

“Our benchmark is that it should take a passenger 10 minutes at most to get into the terminal,” Roxas told the reporters.

“The Presidential Security Group (PSG) was already telling the President to get inside because he was exposed outside the terminal. But he wanted to see for himself. Fortunately, it only took them 5 minutes,” he added.

“It looked like they met their objectives,” President Aquino told the reporters.

“We are gradually improving facilities in the airport to better serve our people, especially during occasions like the observance of Holy Week,” Roxas said.

Cubao bus terminal

“We want to advise our people to allot more time when they travel this Lenten season. They shouldn’t make their travel plans at the last minute to avoid crowds and reach their destinations as planned.”

President Aquino had lunch with top airport administrators before leaving for the Cubao bus terminal inspection.

He arrived approximately 1 p.m. at the Cubao bus terminal for a 30-minute inspection. The land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) established a random drug-testing center.

Also at the bus terminal, LTFRB organized a pre-departure briefing for around 30 drivers, 11 of them were also subjected to breath analyzer tests to check if they had been engaged to drinking. All the drivers offered themselves for drug testing.

The random drug testing prepared last year by LTFRB for bus drivers has become a regular part of the “Oplan Ligtas Biyahe (Safe Journey)”, a program to ensure safe travel during Lenten season.

“We are making random drug testing a regular part of our ‘Ligtas Biyahe’ program to make sure our bus drivers are fit to bring passengers to their destinations safely,” Roxas said.  “We are doing this to ensure the safety of our bosses: the travelers.”

President Aquino said that the procedures at the bus terminal were “more systematized, and all the passengers I spoke to were smiling.”

Also the President noted that even the traffic on EDSA was easier. “So far I am much happier and I am confident that the preparations were all good,” he said.

PAL Adds, Cancels Flights For Holy Week

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is regulating its operations on Holy Week by adding 6 extra flights to 3 destinations and developing 20 international and 2 domestic flights by using larger aircraft.

An additional flight will be attached to and from the following destinations: Taipei and Puerto Princesa City on the 8th of April while on the 9th will be at Hong Kong.

The flights that will use larger aircraft to lodge more passengers are those to and from Shanghai (Pudong airport) on April 4; Xiamen, Taipei, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing on April 5; Puerto Princesa City on April 7; Hong Kong, Xiamen and Beijing on April 8; and Xiamen on April 9.

PAL domestic operations will be scaled down with the cancellation of 38 flights to 7 destinations on Good Friday, Black Saturday and Easter Sunday to permit PAL employees to at least witness Holy Week practices.

On Good Friday, particular flights to and from will be cancelled such as cities of Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Zamboanga and Tacloban. While on Black Saturday, certain flights to and from Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao will be also withdrawn.

On Easter Sunday, one flight each to Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga will similarly be canceled.

Visit the PAL website for a complete list of canceled, upgraded and additional flights (www.philippineairlines.com) or call PAL Reservations at 8558888.

Passengers are recommended to arrive earlier than usual at the airport, also that they double check travel documents (passport, tickets, etc.) and minimize bringing bulky carry-on baggage to avoid aggravations.

NAIA-1 is World’s Worst Airport

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1

The airport named after the father of the current president of the Philippines has been tagged as the world’s worst airport. Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 has fallen 4 places from 5th place and being the worst in Asia to 1st place and the world’s worst.

The Guide to Sleeping in Airports (http://www.sleepinginairports.net) said NAIA Terminal 1 ranked the 30-year old airport as the world’s worst airport because of poor facilities, bribery and security concerns. Also According to the site, a portion of NAIA Terminal 1 already caved in last May.

Bribery and theft exists. Airport taxes are collected, but the money does not seem to go towards the betterment of the airport. Document holders have been told their papers are not correct, but a fee of x amount should clear up the matter,” the website noted.

The website also posted concerns such as the bad press that the airport received about the lack of clean toilets, running water and soap. The terminals are also lacking services such as left luggage and pay-in lounges.

The website said it ranks the world’s least favorite airports based on poll votes and user reviews for reasons such as safety concerns, lack of comfortable seating, rude staff, hostile security, poor facilities, few services to pass the time, bribery and being kicked out or other hassles of being in the airport.

The terminal has been a frequent target of criticism with travelers who say it is congested and filthy.

Lea Salonga as one of the Judges in Miss Universe

One of the Filipinos Pride, a Tony and Oliver Award-winning theater actress, the Disney legend and the Broadway star Ms. Lea Salonga has been chosen by the Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart and NBC Universal head Donald J. Trump to be one of the seven telecast judges of the 2011 Miss Universe pageant. This will be held in at the Credicard Hall, Sao Paulo, Brazil this September 12, 2011 as the preliminary judges selected the top 15 semi-finalist for the pageant’s night.

Lea Salonga is the fifth Filipino to become a judge in the 60-year history of the world’s most prestigious beauty pageant. The most recent Filipino judge for the Miss Universe beauty pageant was Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation Chairman Don Emilio T. Yap when the contest was held in Manila in 1994. India’s Sushmita Sen won the beauty pageant. The first Filipino judge for the contest was the late Gen. Carlos P. Romulo when the Miss Universe contest was held for the first time in Manila in 1974. The late Amparo Munoz of Spain won the contest, only to give up her crown later. Fashion designer Josie Natori became the second Filipino judge in 1989; and later singer-actress Kuh Ledesma in 1991.

Miss Universe 2011, the 60th anniversary of the Miss Universe pageant. Ximena Navarrete of Mexico will crown her successor. Contestants from 89 countries and territories are participating in this year´s pageant, surpassing the previous record of 86 contestants in 2006.

Joining our very own Lea Salonga in judging the 89 delegates of Miss Universe 2011, are the following: Adrienne Maloof, from Bravo’s hit series “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”. Amelia Vega, Miss Universe 2003. Connie Chung, U.S. broadcast legend. Helios Castroneves, three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. Isabeli Fontana, Brazilian supermodel and Vivica Fox, actress & television producer.

Andy Cohen of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens: Live” and Natalie Morales of NBC’s “Today” will be hosting the event. Live performances will come from Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Bebel Gilberto and Brazilian native pop singer Claudia Leitte.

Miss Philippines Shamcey Supsup and the 88 other contestants were judged based on personal interview, evening gown, and swimsuit. The personal interviews were conducted for two days, ahead of the preliminary competitions on swimsuit and evening gown. A total of 16 semifinalists are expected to be announced in the finals. Telecast judges will then choose the Top 8 and Top 4 contestants.

The live coverage of the 2011 Miss Universe beauty pageant will be shown on ABS-CBN on September 13 in the morning.

Filipinos Captured a Giant Crocodile

A giant male crocodile measured 21-foot (7-meter) and weighed 2,370 lbs (1,075-kg) and estimated at least 50 years old was captured. The one-ton male saltwater beast was trapped in a creek in Bunawan, in the Philippines, last Saturday night. It is feared to have attacked several villagers was caught after a three-week hunt.

Mayor Cox Elorde of Bunawan township, Agusan del Sur Province, pretends to measure a huge crocodile which was captured by residents and crocodile farm staff along a creek in Bunawan late Saturday in southern Philippines.

Mayor Cox Elorde of Bunawan township, Agusan del Sur Province, pretends to measure a huge crocodile which was captured by residents and crocodile farm staff along a creek in Bunawan last Saturday in southern Philippines.

It is one of the largest crocodile ever to be captured alive in the Philippines. Dozens of locals and staff from a crocodile farm set up traps to catch the monster after reports of a number of savage crocodile attacks.

The villagers prepare for initial sightings, hunters set four traps, which the crocodile destroyed. They then used sturdier traps using steel cables, one of which finally caught it.

About 100 people had to pull the crocodile to a clearing where a crane lifted it into a truck. The crocodile was placed in a fenced cage in an area where the town plans to build an ecotourism park for species found in a vast marshland in Agusan, an impoverished region about 500 miles from Manila.

According to the reports, the reptile is suspected of killing a fisherman who went missing in July. The crocodile may now be put into a planned ecotourism park in the southern town. Mayor Cox Elorde says that this would turn it “from a threat into an asset.” The giant crocodile which was pulled by 100 people is destined to become the star of a planned ecotourism park for the town.

Despite the catch, villagers remain wary because several crocodiles still roam the outskirts of the farming town of about 37,000 people. The people in that place have been told to avoid venturing into marshy areas alone at night.

But then, the Philippine laws strictly prohibit civilians from killing endangered crocodiles, with violators facing up to 12 years in prison and a fine of 1 million pesos.

The world’s most endangered freshwater variety, crocodylus mindorensis, is found only in the Philippines, where only about 250 are known to be in the wild. About 1,000 of the larger saltwater type, or crocodylus porosus, like the one captured in Bunawan, are scattered mostly in the country’s southern swamplands. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that the enormous crocodile was captured because it was a threat to the community but added that the reptiles are a reminder that the country’s remaining rich habitats need to be constantly protected. Crocodiles have been hunted in the country by poachers hoping to cash in on the high demand in wealthy Asian countries for their skin, which is coveted for vanity products ranging from bags to cellphone cases and the like.

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Shamcey Supsup’s send-off party

Shamcey Supsup, representative of Philippines in Miss Universe competition, had her send-off party at the Gateway Suites, Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City, Monday afternoon, Supsup said that good education is fundamental to the country’s development.

“I have always prayed that there will be progress in our country, which I believe can be achieved through good, quality education,” she said.

Supsup is expected to leave this Wednesday night. She will visit first Colombia for 10 days for some final polishing of her training before pushing to Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug. 21, 2011 for the Miss Universe competition.

Although nervous, Supsup, 25 years old, said that she is not disturbed by the challenge and the added pressure brought about by the fourth place finish of her predecessor Maria Venus Raj.

“I thrive on balance. I am a person who knows that winning means being responsible for the task that was handed to you, but still should be handled with fun and a zest for life. When I won the title last April, I knew that the journey to become the next Filipina Miss Universe would be very challenging, but it will be an endeavor to be enjoyed.”

Supsup also brushed aside the “curse” of State University candidates not making it in international beauty pageants.

“I don’t believe in curses. Win or lose, if you were able to show what being a real Filipino is, what the Filipinos are made of, then I think I have done my job and that for me is an achievement.”

Samantha Brown will visit Philippines

Philippines is her next destination

Philippines is her next destination

Samantha Brown, the travel channel goddess will now explore the other side of the world. Her show will now open new series entitled Samantha Brown’s Asia to experience the taste of Asia.

This is the best continent where Samantha Brown can find the authentic experiences that she wants.

For most travelers, Asia would be the best place to experience the real meaning of exoticism. Asia is where you find the most exotic places on earth, affluent cultures, and gourmet local cuisines. 

For Philippines, what are the places it can offers the travel channel goddess?

Being a hospitable country, Philippines will first invite Samantha to eat merienda or snack in English. Merienda would be her first interpretation of the exotic.

Isaw for Merienda

Isaw for Merienda

Isaw would be the best choice for merienda. It is grilled chicken intestine with additional filipino flavor. Samantha need not to worry because Isaw will be prepared with repeated process of cleaning the two sides of intestine. Then, it will be boiled before the roasting process. Or she can pick Betamax. A dried chicken blood that is serve and cut into small cubes.

After having a merienda, her first destination awaits her, a white beach called Puerto Galera that is close to metro.

Puerto Galera is located northwestermost municipality in the province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. It is located at the southwestern end of the Isla Verde Passage, about 130 kilometers (81 mi) south of Manila. Puerto Galera is only three and a half hours away from Manila first by bus to the port at Batangas City and then by boat.

Resort in Puerto Galera

Resort in Puerto Galera

Puerto Galera means “Port of Galleons”, it became popular among seafarers during the galleon trade at the start of the 10th century. Because of its magnificent natural harbor. Until now it is consider as one of the most beautiful and safest in the world.

The diversity of hard and soft corals, along with hundreds of species of tropical fish life makes Puerto Galera one of the most popular dive destinations in the Philippines. Pelagics, tropicals and Other fishes among the pristine coral reefs that nurture an amazing diversity of marine flora and fauna. (see Coco Beach Resort)

Pagudpud Beach

Pagudpud Beach

Samantha will have different choices depending on what she wants to see. If she decides to see more white beaches. She can travel north of Manila to see how bizarre the seashore of Pagudpud beach in the northwest tip of Ilocos Norte. Or she may go to 315 km south of Manila to see how dreamlike the sunset in Boracay.

Her travel must not end in those beaches. She also needs to see the following places: